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Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 – The Category Killer

9.1

Reviewer Background:

I am a tall and lean mean skiing machine. At 6″3 I put a lot of leverage on ski boots so a stiff boot that doesn’t bottom out on me is crucial. I generally ski about 40% resort and 60% backcountry touring in one form or another. I’ve spent the last 4 seasons on the Dynafit Vulcan which for those not in the know is a 130 flex Carbon upper boot with a tongue style design. It provided a great balance between uphill and downhill performance and was a major disruptor in the ski boot market at the time of its release.

I’m pretty much always on skis above 110mm underfoot in the Coast Mountains of BC and am nearly always using a tech binding setup.

Alright, with the stage set let’s get into this.

The Hawx Ultra XTD is quickly becoming the optimal boot for those that enjoy alpine tropical beach parties.

Overview

The Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD series merges their touring orientated Backland series with their notably lightweight alpine/downhill Hawx series (a previous review of this alpine boots can be found here). This hybrid of boots has lead to one of the hottest touring boots on the market this year. Below is an overview of all the key stats and numbers gear nerds love to consume:

Key Facts:

  • Size tested: 28/28.5
  • Memory Fit Compatible (use the alpine version of Memory Fit)
  • 98mm last
  • Flex: 130 (120 & 100 are also available)
    • True flex (I think this is a fancy way of saying plastics used such as Grilamid aren’t as sensitive to temperature change as opposed to traditional boot plastics…?)
  • Grilamid cuff and shell
    • 120 & 100 flex versions utilize a PU cuff construction with a Grilamid lower
  • 54 degrees of range of motion
    • In my experience, this number is arbitrary and resistance/friction in a stride is much more important. A boot with less ROM but that moves with less resistance is much more noticeable in my experience.
  • Weight per boot: 1410g (this is incredible for this style of boot)
  • Binding compatibility:
    • Dynafit certified tech inserts for use in all tech bindings
    • All ISO 9523 bindings
      • WTR sole compatibility for alpine bindings such as the Salomon Warden etc..
      • Marker Jester/Griffing/etc…
      • NOTE: Not compatible with bindings such as Look Pivot

This boots main value proposition is that it is uncompromising on both the up and the down. With that in mind, this review will be separated uphill performance and downhill performance. Gotta get up to get down, baby.

Uphill Performance

Carefully framing this skinning photo to make the near country look like the far country

As mentioned above, I find the obsession of range of motion degrees to be kinda BS. In practice, all that really matters is the ability to fully flex forward the boot and a little bit rearwards. As well, the amount of resistance in the flex is the singular factor that separates a great walk mode from a bad one in my opinion.

As far as the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD goes, this boot is arguably the best 4 buckle overlap walk mode on the market. I am completely blown away by just how functional this walk mode is.

Looking at the walk mode system, adopted from the Backland series and as shown below, it’s difficult for me to grasp why it’s so amazing. And yet it moves so well. Rather than speculating on the science why it’s so good, I’ll just defer to the smart engineers at Atomic and respect their craft.

The walk mode mechanism. Simple and effective. The dirt on the boot is to show I really do GET AFTER IT.

The little bar that the walk mode clicks into begs for play and slop. And yet… not play or slop in the system. At least not yet.

It’s hard to say if slop will develop in the future, which is very common in every touring boot of this style, but as of the 15 days I’ve put into this boot so far this year, it seems fine. I do admit, however, that this length of time is not long enough to judge a boot’s long term performance.

Nonetheless, I’m stoked.

A couple of considerations on the uphill segment of this boot I’ve noticed:

  • I’ve noticed snow building up quite easily on the bar that walk mode mechanism clicks into. If I’m skiing big natty pillows and pow mon, I generally have to rub off built up snow before I can switch the boot into downhill mode. This isn’t a big deal but is worth mentioning
  • The buckle system is nothing special or new. It’s your run of the mill aluminum ladder style buckles that you have to unbuckle at every transition. Don’t expect anything groundbreaking here.
  • As seen in the above photo, I quickly switched from the stock velcro strap to a Booster Strap. Reason being is of course that Booster Straps are amazing and solve most shinbang problems but also because I hate dealing with a velcro strap on a transition but much rather prefer a quick one handed loosening motion. I gotta give a shoutout to Dynafit for implementing this into their boots and wish more boots had them on stock.

Overall, I feel pretty confident in saying this is the best walking 4 buckle boot on the market. Period.

Downhill Performance

Renowned boot reviewer and friend Lee Lau has always lamented on how difficult it is to get a skiing photo with the boot being reviewed in the shot. Especially here in the Coast Mountains of BC where we ski a lot of big natty pillows and pow mon. 

And yep, I wholeheartedly agree.

Nonetheless, I ensure you, dear reader, I did also ski these boots in a downhill fashion and not just on the uphill.

Though they can’t be seen, the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 were used in the making of this video.

Overall, here are few of the main notes I have on the downhill performance of the boot:

  • Some boot review cliches I feel obligated to write out to both annoy jaded industry folk and to keep people reading:
    • This is a truly progressive 130 flex boot
    • This boot really drives big skis well
    • The boot transfers power well from the boot to the binding to the ski or something
    • (Oh god I hate myself for having just written that)
  • It’s pretty astounding that a boot as light as this one can ski so well. I don’t know what kind of magic sauce the Atomic folk put into the Hawx series, but it’s the real deal.

Final Words

Yeah, this boot rocks. If it fits.

There’s no denying it’s on the narrower side of the ski boot last world so you do need a sufficiently narrow foot to enjoy this boot. Nonetheless, the memory fit technology used here does provide a stated additional 6mm of width so it may work for a surprising amount of people. For those not familiar with memory fit, see the video below. It’s for the Backland boot but it is a similar idea for this boot too.

I hate to sound like a branded schill, but it’s important to give credit where credit is due and Atomic damn well nailed it with this boot. It is the best 4 buckle overlap backcountry touring boot on the market and I would strongly recommend getting it if it fits!

Comments

The Breakdown


Downhill Performance (relative to this boot category)
9
Uphill Performance (relative to this boot category. read: not rando boots)
9.5
Fit (How much it can be altered/how easily)
9
Cool Marketing Buzzwords Involved
8.5
Blackcomb Backcountry Street Cred When Wearing These
9.5




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